Why on earth would an adult want to wear braces? In the past, braces were worn by children and teenagers. But times have changed. Today, 1 in 5 patients of orthodontists in the U.S. is an adult.
Adult dental braces are more popular than ever. That Huck Finn buck-toothed grin may be cute on a freckle-faced kid, but on an adult? No way! Or maybe you inherited the family heirloom-your grandfather’s gap-toothed grin or your grandmother’s lisp. Or perhaps you’re experiencing the pain caused by a TMJ problem, or are having trouble chewing and swallowing properly.
There are many reasons for having your teeth straightened. And, since the process typically takes 1-2 years and can cost several thousand dollars, your choice of orthodontist should be an informed one. Many orthodontists offer free consultations. It’s a good idea to shop around and check out at least 2 or 3 orthodontists before making a commitment. To make the decision easier, here are 5 facts to know before choosing an orthodontist.
1. The orthodontist you choose should practice high professional standards. Does he belong to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO)? How long has he been practicing? Are his license and other credentials current? Does he continually update his training?
1. You should decide what a successful outcome looks like. Do you want to close a gap, straighten crooked teeth, improve your bite or correct a speech impairment, such as lisping? What is it you want the braces treatment to accomplish?
2. Besides the traditional stainless steel “metal-mouth” braces, there are many other styles and techniques such as ceramic or plastic ones and the so-called “invisible” braces or even porcelain veneers. Does the orthodontist offer a variety of options and the latest trends in other teeth straightening techniques?
3. Ask about appointment times. You have commitments to your family, your employer and others. Does the orthodontist offer appointments on only one day a week? Or is he available on more days? Are available appointment times convenient for you? Inconvenient appointment times can lead to missed appointments-and a longer treatment time.
4. What happens after the braces come off? Will you have to wear a retainer? If so, for how long? Some orthodontists are not very strict about having their patients wear retainers after their teeth straightening treatment. Not wearing your retainer can cause the teeth to move back out of their new alignment. This is good news for the not-so-ethical orthodontist, because it could mean a repeat of the treatment. A conscientious orthodontist, however, will explain the importance of maintaining your new straight smile and insist that you follow his instructions as to whether to wear a retainer and when.
5. Sometimes teeth straightening and braces are not enough to correct a lisp or a swallowing problem. What then? A good orthodontist will follow up the orthodontic treatment with a referral to another professional, such a speech therapist. An orthodontist you can trust is one who is concerned that you receive the appropriate and necessary after-braces care.
Adult dental braces, and the right orthodontist, can correct a host of oral health issues. And choosing a highly trained professional is an important decision.
Don’t settle for the first orthodontist you come across. Evaluating several potential orthodontists is the best way to make an informed decision. Keep in mind these 5 facts before choosing an orthodontist. The right professional for you will help you achieve a successful treatment outcome and maintain that gorgeous smile for a lifetime.